Grand Rapids Michigan is a burgeoning cultural hub that is filled with educational, informative, engaging, and inspiring Michigan museums. These Grand Rapids museums — which cater to people of all ages — are the perfect year-round attractions to enjoy in West Michigan.
Grand Rapids Public Museum
272 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
With an emphasis on science, history, and culture, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is known as a place where people of all ages can be curious, explore new topics, and enjoy hands-on learning experiences.
Not only does this museum have one of the largest collections of artifacts in the state — with more than 250,000 artifacts and specimens in its collections — but it also has dozens of exhibits as well as a handful of attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Exhibits such as Grand Fish, Grand River, and West Michigan Habitats give visitors an opportunity to meet the creatures that call Grand Rapids home while also learning more about the natural habitats in this region.
The Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit is an immersive experience that allows guests to take a step back in time and experience what life used to be like in the city.
In addition, there are several exhibits about specific cultures, such as the Egypt Be Curious exhibit and the Anishinabek: The People of This Place exhibit.
Of course, the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is a must-see for anyone who is visiting the Grand Rapids Public Museum. With a state-of-the-art sound system and innovative projection technology, guests are able to rest and relax in style as they view the galaxy above.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
President Gerald R. Ford is the only U.S. President to hail from Michigan to date, and it’s no surprise that he established his presidential museum in his hometown of Grand Rapids.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is a history museum dedicated to preserving the story of President Gerald R. Ford and his wife, First Lady Betty Ford. In addition to having interactive and immersive exhibits about their lives and his presidency, the museum also has rotating exhibits that focus on American history.
The museum is home to both a Cabinet Room replica as well as an Oval Office replica.
In the Cabinet Room replica, visitors are able to interact with various media in order to become one of the top advisers to President Ford during his administration.
In the Oval Office replica, visitors are able to step into an exact replica of the most important office in the country — and see what it was like when President Ford was in office.
Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archive
87 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archive, known affectionately as GRAAMA, opened its doors in 2016, making it a relative newcomer to the Grand Rapids museum scene.
While it is currently housed in an intimate, 2,100-square-foot facility, the museum is already in the process of updating and renovating a 13,000-square-foot facility in downtown Grand Rapids.
GRAAMA is focused on its mission of preserving the oral histories and traditions of African American people. The goal of its founders is to collect as many oral histories as possible from African Americans in the surrounding region and retell these colorful and authentic stories in a way that weaves together a tapestry of the history of African American life in the Grand Rapids area.
Visitors are able to listen to recorded histories, explore immersive exhibits, and view memorabilia that is on display.
Grand Rapids Children’s Museum
11 Sheldon Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum began as a temporary, innovative experience — a “museum without walls.” An exhibit was created at the Woodland Mall in 1993, and it was such a success, that organizers decided to launch a play-based museum geared specifically toward children in the Grand Rapids Area by 1994.
Today, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is a sprawling space filled with rotating exhibits, all of which offer play-based experiences designed to stimulate the mind and encourage social, emotional, and physical development.
Not only is it a favorite among local residents, but it also is an amazing attraction that families like to visit while traveling in the area.
Some of the exhibits include a makerspace, a Lego-building area, a bubble popping exhibit, a train table, a water table, and a beehive exhibit. There are specially designated areas for the youngest visitors, as well as exhibits designed for older children, ensuring that every child has a safe space to play with their peers.
The fact that the exhibits are always changing means that this is an exciting place to visit time and time again.
Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Grand Rapids Art Museum is one of the oldest museums in the city. It was founded in 1910, and for more than a century, it has been committed to helping residents form connections through art.
Located in a 125,000-square-foot facility with more than 20,000-square-feet of exhibit space, it is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in Michigan.
The museum hosts a variety of artists throughout the year, and its rotating exhibits ensure that visitors are always able to discover something new. The exhibits focus on a diverse range of media, from sculptures and pottery to photographs and painting.
In addition, the museum hosts special, temporary exhibits throughout the year, which brings the joy of other museums right to the heart of Grand Rapids.
While visitors are able to browse the collections and experience the museum on their own time, it also is possible to book guided tours in order to get an in-depth introduction to the amazing works of art that are on display at the museum.
Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA)
17 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts is more than just another art museum in Grand Rapids — it’s a cultural hub that is always buzzing with activity, giving artists and those who are passionate about art a place to connect, reflect and grow.
UICA, part of Grand Valley University’s Kendall College of Art and Design, is considered to be the largest contemporary art space in West Michigan, and there are always new installations and exhibits to experience.
The mission of the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts is to expose more people to contemporary art, to promote inclusive cultural experiences through art, to support artists who are pursuing a career in contemporary art, and to give patrons a place to reflect on, ponder, and consider contemporary art.
In addition to having rotating exhibits in the museum throughout the year, the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts also prioritizes outreach programs. It schedules family activity days throughout the year, allowing families with young children to visit the center and enjoy immersive, age-appropriate activities.
It also has launched a public art program designed to bring contemporary art to gathering places and prominent spaces in Grand Rapids, ultimately exposing as many people as possible to the joy and beauty of contemporary art installations.
Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
1000 E Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Perhaps one of the most innovative museums in Grand Rapids is the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Built in 1995, this indoor and outdoor museum is the only one of its kind in Michigan, and it has become a notable Midwest attraction that has even gained international notoriety.
The Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park consists of more than 158 acres. Throughout its indoor and outdoor facilities, visitors are able to discover more than 200 unique sculptures. Some of these sculptures are towering works of art that appear larger than life, while others are smaller — tucked away in the details of the horticulture gardens.
In addition to the many incredible sculptures, this museum is comprised of several gardens, allowing visitors to wind through the beautifully-manicured landscaping and soak up the natural beauty that surrounds them.
There are few museums in the world that combine the beauty of art and nature in such a way, which is why this is considered to be a world-class art museum.
Meyer May House
450 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The Meyer May House is a historical museum in Grand Rapids that provides visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the past and learn more about the prominent families who lived in Grand Rapids. This house was constructed in 1908 and was designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
To prevent this historical home from falling into disrepair, it was purchased by Steelcase Inc. and the company began to do restoration and renovation work in order to make it available to the public. In 1987, the house first opened its doors to the public, and today, visitors are still able to tour the home.
The 90-minute tour experience is free and includes a video presentation about the house. Visitors must make reservations in advance if they want to tour the home in person. There are also online virtual tours available.
More to Explore in Grand Rapids Michigan
With so many museums located in glittering downtown Grand Rapids, it would be easy to fill up your itinerary with different museums in Grand Rapids every day of your visit.